Interviews

QWtD: Exzachly interviews harkovast!
lucky7s76 at 8:06AM, Jan. 27, 2009
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The following interview was conducted by our own Exzachly in the Community Interview Project!

Username: harkovast

Comic(s): Harkovast

To start off, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?


My name is Daniel Richard Stribley, and I write and draw Harkovast, while my wife Julie Anne Stribley colours it. We live in the North of England in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. My wife is from Utah (ex-Mormon) in the U.S. I met a friend of hers on a newsgroup chat room on the internet and we met a few months later, in Alaska, of all places. (I saw a moose swimming in a lake there.) We lived in the U.S. for a few years but old blighty was calling and we moved back! Huzzah! It’s been seven years since we met! We have five children at home: Megan (15), Miranda (17), Sam (3), Catie (2) and Charlotte (7 months). Lucas lives with his father in California-he’s 12. My wife has a rule that no colouring gets done till the babies are in bed. Charlotte has an avid interest in dumping over the pencil box with all the shavings.

Now, for those who haven’t read Harkovast, what is it about?

Harkovast is the tale of a fantastical world (called Harkovast) that is inhabited by numerous strange and magical races. Their world is under threat from The Nameless Race, an unthinking horde of warriors who are driven forward by the will of an unseen master. But these evil forces of the West are not just attacking on the field of battle; they hope to exploit the rivalries and divisions between the races of Harkovast to their advantage. Will they be able to unite against the common enemy before it is too late? (Queue dramatic music.)

What attracted you to the fantasy genre?

When I was very young, my brother bought a copy of the fantasy game Heroquest. This game was awesome! I think a whole generation of kids in Britain grew up having played it. From that moment I was hooked on the fantasy genre. I went on to play role-playing and war games. (I've commandeered a room of my house to fill with of model space ships from Games Workshop.) I've also always had an interest in history as well (knights and castles fascinated me as a child….and I guess they still do!) So this genre catches my imagination more then Sci-Fi due to the wonderful historical elements you can bring into it. I hope that as it goes on people will be able to pick out all the different historical influences in Harkovast.

My wife likes unicorns.

Any fantasy conventions you just downright hate or find annoying; stuff that you try to avoid in Harkovast?

Here are my three main bug bears of fantasy-
Firstly, the rampant sexism of warrior chicks in chain mail bikinis (or as my daughter Megan calls it, Slut-Mail). Why would someone dress in armoured underwear to go into battle? Or have a big section missing to show off their jugs? Yeah, real sexy, love! Right up to the point the bad guy hacks you to bits due to huge gaps in your non-existent armour! (My wife adds ‘we are not against a nice female figure, but it doesn’t seem fair that the man should have the covering. The goods should be protected!’)

Secondly, the over use of Tolkien’s ideas reworked. Tolkien is the father of the fantasy genre, duh, but that does not mean we have to just ape his ideas rather than thinking of their own! Elves and dwarves and hobbits and orcs show up in everything—always slight variations on the same tired creatures. One of the initial concepts of Harkovast was to make a new set of races, with cultures and looks that were different to what people normally expect in fantasy.

Third and finally, I hate fantasy shows that have armour that never works! The guys wear 100 pounds of chain mail each, but then one sword slash always kills them. Armour only works if it is specifically said to be magic or something. (Mithril, or summat.) I'm making an effort to make sure the importance of armour becomes very clear in Harkovast (look at how much of a beating the old knight has taken so far!)

Are there things you wish more fantasy comics/books/movies would try?

Hmm, I sort of answered this in the last question!

Try putting in armour that works, try having an ending that does not involve a big Deus Ex Machina killing the entire enemy army in less then five minutes, try inventing a new fantasy film that is not a remake or a sequel or based on a book.
Oh and try making a movie of Harkovast! Definitely try that!

Harkovast has an extremely detailed and fleshed out universe. How much planning went into Harkovast before the pencil even touched the paper?

The idea first came about many years ago when I talked to a friend of mine when we were at school (about 15 years ago) about how awesome the Dungeons and Dragons Tower of Doom arcade game was. We decided that if they made a sequel it would be cool if they included some more interesting races, like cat people and lizard people. I put a lot of thought into mapping out this world.

The original world included orcs, dwarves and humans, as well as large talking wolves called storm wolves.

The initial races that would remain were cat people, bird people, lizard people and fox people, who are all still central to the world.

Years later, when I came back from America recently I discussed the idea of bringing this world I had planned back. We invented a lot of new races and then I gave them all names and basically reworked it into a coherent and functioning fantasy world. I also came up with the name Harkovast.

About 8 months ago I decided to do something with this world, and made a web comic! (As it’s an easy medium to get into, and a comic works well for the story I wanted to tell.) My wife was not keen initially, thinking it would be too difficult to get rolling, and she is generally not a fan of talking animal people. I drew a few pages and then my wife suggested that she colour them in with pencils. The results were really fantastic (at least to us) and so the comic as you know it was born.

How do you make a typical Harkovast page, from concept to posting?

The story is largely already planned out, so I know what I am going to draw as I come to each page. I basically try to think of interesting layouts and ways of presenting the story. I draw it in pencil, and then go over it in pen (planning out the text in pencil and then rubbing it out).

I then pass it to my wife who colours it in with her magic pencils. (Wife adds, it’s not the pencil but the hand that holds it that gets the credit here, you big numpty.)

Next put it on the computer, correcting mistakes and adding in all the text.
And there you go! One completed page!

If you want to see it all laid out then you can see a step by step with pictures on the Harkovast Forum (shameless plug! Hooray!)

*Lucky's Edit: Harkovast's Forum*


What is the most challenging part of creating a fantasy comic versus other genres?

Making the world coherent and believable. If the world seems shallow and unimportant, how can I expect you, the reader to care whether or not it gets destroyed or not?

This is a double edged sword because it means I have to put out a lot of exposition to explain what this world is all about and not drive people away in droves with boring reams of text! I spent a lot of time at the start thinking of imaginative ways to get in exposition without making it boring and dry.

What’s the best part?

Swords, battles, adventure, strange creatures, magical powers, a world in peril…I could go on!

I love this genre, and I hope some of that love comes through in the comic.

You rarely make comments on any of your work. In general, how do you feel about your pages after you’ve posted them?

Oooh, good question! You pay attention, I respect that.

The reason is that if I notice a mistake or something I am not happy with, you might not notice it, so if I don’t mention it and just quietly edit the page, then you might well never notice. I don’t want to hold a sign up over my errors.
Equally, I don’t want to sit and brag about the bits I like.

I think the comic should speak for itself. You don't need my director’s commentary to know what it is about (and if you want to know more than appears in the comic, ask me on the forum).

Now, what do I think of it?

I don't want to sound arrogant, but I think it is great! I love the look of it, the style and the way the story is unfolding over time. If I didn't love it and I thought it was rubbish I would give up and go do something else.

I know not everyone will like every page etc., but I don't post a page I don't personally like. I'm always saying that the next one is my favourite.

Why furries? Just curious.

I made them all talking animals because I think talking animals are cool!
I know a lot of people think of these types of characters as cute or funny but I remember animals of Farthing Wood, Watership Down and SWAT Kats from my childhood, all full of dark serious and violent plots (folk got killed a remarkable amount in SWAT Kats!)

I don't consider myself a part of some sort of “furry community,” I just think they are really cool character designs.

They also serve a very useful function in terms of making it easy to tell who comes from which country, as each culture is a different animal. Considering how many cultures there are for the audience to get their head round, this is a very useful thing!

We all know which anthropomorphic species is the best fighter ever (werewolf sharks), but which animal would make the worst fighter ever?

The Werewolf Shark can defeat even the fearsome Electric Ninja Wolverine, such is their power!

In Harkovast, the weakest race in terms of military power is probably the Bardabor (who are enslaved by the Knarl Empire and though large and very submissive and down trodden) who look like cows, or the Xateem (who are like Bedouin Nomads and don't really have any armies or talent with weapons) who look like camels (yes, camels).

Neither of them has been in it yet, and they won’t be in it for ages, but it might be handy to know!

In general terms, the weakest animal to make an anthro character in terms of fighting would probably be the earth worm (unless he had a super suit to make him really super strong, then Jim could be a winner if we only sing along!)
In terms of the WORST one to use….don't make skunk people. I know skunks look cool, and I like Pepe Le Pew a great deal, but a race that attacks by pulling down its trousers and pointing its arse at you is not cool. Don’t go there!

Ok, one final question. Harkovast seems to be a man’s world. Where are all the womens, Harkovast? (sub-question: What did you do to them?!)

My wife suggests that if there are not enough women, perhaps they all went shopping.

What? Accusations of Harkovast being sexist? I can’t let that stand! I am more feminist than my wife is. Harkovast contains many important women! Scatterpod for example- Not only is she a high shaman amongst the Ano-Chee, she has magic so powerful she can literally raise the dead and is so smart even the Wizards of Eldex listen to her council!

The two priestesses in the church are both female, and have been very helpful in keeping the Old Knight on his feet, and one of them was going to knock the bad guy out with a stool until that goofy knight's crazy sense of honour made him tell her to stop!

Later on we will meet Chen-Chen, The Gunsmith, Night Blossom and the awesome Witchfinder General (you can see early sketches of some of those characters on the Harkovast forum) who are all very important and very cool female characters.
Some races in Harkovast are quite sexist (the Ivos are incredibly sexist against females and the Darsai can be somewhat sexist against women too.) Others are very much equal between genders (like the Ano-Chee and Tsung-Dao) while the Zadakine (and to some extent the Nymus) are more matriarchal. (Zadakine generally consider men to be mostly only good for fighting in battles, manual labour, breeding and not much else.)
By the time you finish this, you'll have read it. :3

deviantART
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:48PM
harkovast at 8:36AM, Jan. 27, 2009
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Hooray! Interviewed! Now I feel famous.
I thought Exzachly asked some really good questions here, I was impressed by how much attention he seemed to have paid.
One question…why is the start of the interview in italics and then it is in normal later on? I think it should all be normal so it is easier to read.

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:42PM
dragonsong12 at 1:27PM, Jan. 27, 2009
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Ooh! Sounds interesting!
I love knowing that people put more into their worlds than just “meh, i felt like it.” Unique and well-crafted cultures are an A+ in my book! I may have to start reading this! (Dammit! XD)

Good interview!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:16PM
skoolmunkee at 3:02PM, Jan. 27, 2009
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Another great interview! Everyone's been doing a really stellar job with the questions. And all the people interviewed have had a lot to say and been really informative and enthusiastic. They're fun to read.

Harkovast I'd never have figured you lived in England. You are not depressed enough.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
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harkovast at 4:04PM, Jan. 27, 2009
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Skoolmunkee I am curious where you thought I was from if not England?
Perhaps my wifes American enthusiasm has rubbed off on me?
Or perhaps I am just crying on the inside?

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:42PM
skoolmunkee at 4:47PM, Jan. 27, 2009
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You don't seem to have most of the um… phrasing? that I usually see in English people's writing. They often use slightly different sayings and sentence structures. Not paid much attention to the spelling though, probably should have, there's armour and colour right there in the interview. :]

If you are in fact crying on the inside then you are a true Englishman. Just never let your hurt show.

Also I concur that swat kats was a pretty rad cartoon, even if the jet was impossible. I really liked their monster truck they had in one or two of the episodes. Blastin rock music and fightin giant zombie mummies!
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
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harkovast at 4:59PM, Jan. 27, 2009
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Yes, truely the design of the jet was the least likely thing in SWAT Kats.

I am not sure what phrasing you mean, I can go a bit ye olde if it would help?
Thou hast readeth yonder web comic? Forsooth!


For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
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Doctor Shadow at 3:00AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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*thumbsup*

Good interview there!
A Ronin writer, a masterless samurai of the written word…
http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Chronicles_of_Wyrden/
Updating: Thursdays. Now in glorious Ink Wash and Water Soluble Pencil! Reva's note: This is not created digitally, it's all hand drawn and inked.
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skoolmunkee at 4:00AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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Tell us which character is your favorite and why, but do it in Ye Olde Englishe
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
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Exzachly at 4:15AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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I really wish I would have asked more questions with this. For some reason, I thought the max amount we were allowed was 15 (an idea which I stupidly never checked up on). All these 20+ interviews are making me feel like an ass, really.
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harkovast at 5:21AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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Exzachly if you can think of another question, you could always just ask it and I will answer it….probably in ye olde english.

Speaking of which-
Privy, good sirs! It is beyond the ken of me to say which of my character is most favoured. Hast thou not realised that yonder characters were all sprung from the well of mine imagination? Thou asks of me too much! I am undone this day!
But were I forced by cruel fate and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to choose from amongst their hallowed ranks, then it is the Knights tale I do favour.

Or if you prefer-

I can't pick a favourite, I like them all! Also they each fill a role in the story, so I can't really take them in isolation.
Alright, if I was really really pushed I suppose I might say the Old Knight (though no one else likes him much yet, I think he will grow on you when you get to know him.)

My only regret in this interview is the question about what is Harkovast about, I only said what it was literally about. I should have talked about the symbolism and moral lessons that it is supposed to impart. I think I made it seem shallow.

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
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skoolmunkee at 6:34AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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lol! Now that's more like it!

Next time try to fit in the words whilst, crumpet, and tyre!
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
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dragonsong12 at 7:11AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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Exzachly
I really wish I would have asked more questions with this. For some reason, I thought the max amount we were allowed was 15 (an idea which I stupidly never checked up on). All these 20+ interviews are making me feel like an ass, really.

I know what you mean, I submitted questions to my interviewee, then checked in the forums and was like “crap…” at least the questions are open-ended and she can elaborate…right?…right?
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Bocaj at 7:32AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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Really nice interview!

Don't read Rape.
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PIT_FACE at 9:14AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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great interview, both sides did really great!
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the2ndredbaron at 10:23AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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Glad to see the interview, keep up the good work HArk.
 
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NickGuy at 12:43PM, Jan. 28, 2009
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about damn time you got more attention, harkovast.

awesome interview. keep up the good work.

“Kung Fu Komix IS…hardcore martial art action all the way. 8/10” -Harkovast
“Kung Fu Komix is that rare comic that is made with heart and love of the medium, and it delivers” -Zenstrive
“Kung Fu Komix is…so awesome” -threeeyeswurm
“Kung Fu Komix is..told with all the stupid exuberance of the genre it parodies” -The Real Macabre
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harkovast at 1:09PM, Jan. 28, 2009
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Well I am glad everyone enjoyed it, I hope it gave you some sort of insight into all things Harko and most things vast.
It is pretty agonising for me to have to wait to post the comic, as there is loads and loads of stuff to be said about it that has yet to appear on the comic.

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
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skoolmunkee at 3:47PM, Jan. 28, 2009
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The bane of every creator is that their ideas can't magically fly out of their head, complete, but must be labored at slowly. :[
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
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gurukitty at 5:40PM, Jan. 28, 2009
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Awesome interview!
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ozoneocean at 10:40PM, Jan. 28, 2009
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You know the thing that got me in Swat Cats? -their massive feet.
The two main cat characters had HUGE feet. Too big to pull on pants type huge.
But no one else did. All other cat people had normal feet. It was like they were the bizarre giant foot brothers or something. Still, yeah, brilliant cartoon and I can see it in the comic.

And great interview. Well done ^_^
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:33PM
harkovast at 1:35AM, Jan. 29, 2009
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They were also short.
The main characters were shorter then almost everyone else in it.
I think maybe that was the moral, that being short and big footed and a cat with a really crappy job is no reason you can't fly a super high tech plane against giant robots and things.
A moral that we can all learn from in our everyday lives.

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:42PM
houseofmuses at 6:07AM, Jan. 29, 2009
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Yay! Harkovast finally got his interview.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:50PM
harkovast at 6:32AM, Jan. 29, 2009
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Yes, I am happy now. :)
And we got to discuss how awesome swat kats was.
If I was a cat, I would deffinitely build a plane.

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
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skoolmunkee at 9:55AM, Jan. 29, 2009
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What kind of disturbed me were the kitty litter jokes. So, all the people in swat kats still pooped in a litter tray?

There weren't any yarn jokes or sleep-all-day jokes or other stuff that cats do jokes. But the kitty litter ones were there.

Also all the guy cats looked a lot more cat-like than the girl cats, who just looked like people with ears.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
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NickGuy at 10:45AM, Jan. 29, 2009
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skoolmunkee
What kind of disturbed me were the kitty litter jokes. So, all the people in swat kats still pooped in a litter tray?

There weren't any yarn jokes or sleep-all-day jokes or other stuff that cats do jokes. But the kitty litter ones were there.

Also all the guy cats looked a lot more cat-like than the girl cats, who just looked like people with ears.

like this?


that was the best i could find on google.

“Kung Fu Komix IS…hardcore martial art action all the way. 8/10” -Harkovast
“Kung Fu Komix is that rare comic that is made with heart and love of the medium, and it delivers” -Zenstrive
“Kung Fu Komix is…so awesome” -threeeyeswurm
“Kung Fu Komix is..told with all the stupid exuberance of the genre it parodies” -The Real Macabre
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:15PM
harkovast at 11:59AM, Jan. 29, 2009
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Okay, yeah skoolmunkee, you are right as usual.
The girl cats did indeed look like humans. I remember noticing this as a child and thinking it was weird.
Also kitty litter jokes are just messed up and wrong in this context.
I hate when people have anthro type characters doing and saying stupid stuff based on daft animal jokes. They don't make any sense in that context, unless the SWAT Kats have also encountered regular house cats that they keep as pets, which is just getting too weird!

Please note that in Harkovast female characters look as much like animals as the males, they don't get “hair” in addition to fur or any of that crap.

Also note no stupid comments about cats licking their arses, using kitty litter or birds taking baths in peoples gardens or anything else along those stupid lines.

So I learned from SWAT Kats, but did not repeat their mistakes!

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:42PM
alpha_beta_angel at 9:13PM, Jan. 29, 2009
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that interview was a very meaty read. I don't think there was anything left uncovered, very detailed. Well done!
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:49AM
The Real Macabre at 1:51PM, Jan. 31, 2009
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Great interview on everyone's part! I'm glad to see Harkovast getting attention.
. .
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:15PM
houseofmuses at 6:07PM, Jan. 31, 2009
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Exzachly did a great job. He didn't HAVE to play 20 Questions–I didn't, either–but the questions and answers were QUALITY, which is what really matters!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:50PM

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